By the Corsair's Closet's Liz Carlie, the 'Mad Woman with a Box'
The premiere of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. debuted to stellar numbers last week, and if you read my previous review, you’ll know I was not only impressed with the pilot, but expect some great things out of the season to come. TV pilots are tricky things, in that we basically need an episode of pure exposition before we can get to the good stuff. Any writer can tell you exposition is difficult, because you have to make it both interesting and informative, so I did grant last week a little leeway in terms of forming an opinion. It was Marvel, I was excited, and I had a good time, but it was more or less an expository show. The rest of America obviously gave it the same benefit of the doubt and tuned in so we could get here: 0-8-4.
Before I get into the episode, I’ll issue a very clear and very obvious SPOILER WARNING. Trust me, if you haven’t seen the episode, there’s some surprises you won’t want me to ruin.
Once again: SPOILERS AHEAD.
Now that you’ve been protected from harm? Let’s talk Marvel.
The start of the episode is more of the same in the television format: summary exposition for those who missed the pilot, and it was done so well that I really didn’t pick up on it enough to be taken out of the story. While Skye packed her things and handed over her beloved van to be cared for by S.H.I.E.L.D. as she joined the team on the Bus, Ward and Mae protested her presence vehemently to Coulson, who summarily stood by his decision to bring her on and ignored them. Soon it was wheels up to investigate an 0-8-4: S.H.I.E.L.D.’s version of a UFO, only it doesn’t always fly. The reference to their last 0-8-4, a hammer out in New Mexico, made me ridiculously happy as the team landed in Peru to commence their mission.
With exposition out of the way, the episode unfolded nicely. The 0-8-4 in question was lodged in the stone wall of an Incan temple, which basically looked like the Hulk got really pissed off and threw an engine block into the wall. FitzSimmons and the Seven Drones worked their magic while Ward and Mae stood guard outside, giving us a little more character backstory for Melinda. Soon, Peruvian commandos showed up, were summarily dealt with, and Melinda showed exactly why she doesn’t carry a sidearm. Mostly, she prefers to steal her weapons from her assailants, and I will likely be trying to duplicate her badass hero pose with two hand guns for many years to come…except I’ll be doing it in front of the mirror with far less impressive finger-guns.
The standoff ended with Coulson’s intervention, and the appearance of the commandos’ leader: Commandante Camilla Reyes, who we discover has romantic history with that sly dog, Coulson. The interaction between these two was something I adored, and absolutely loved the look not only at Coulson’s past, but at his personal relationship history. Coulson and Camilla were great together, but peace didn’t last as rebels attacked, leading to a hasty removal of the device from the temple and a firefight that led back to the Bus. The first signs of the team breaking down were visible: bad communication between Ward and the techs, Skye’s clear status as the fish out of water, and Melinda’s discontent with being placed in a combat situation Coulson swore she would never see.
Once things settled down, the commandos were given full hospitality as they set a course for the nearest S.H.I.E.L.D. containment facility. While Fitz and Simmons discovered that the 0-8-4 was more than just a Hydra-based device running on Tesseract energy, it was a very dangerous weapon, Skye and Ward did a little bonding, and Reyes and Coulson did a little flirting. Too late, Ward and Coulson had the same realization: the Peruvians were there to take the weapon, and the plane.
The disaster serves as the ultimate in hardcore team building exercises, while Coulson shares a lot of dry banter with Reyes, exuding confidence in the group she saw a short while earlier, bickering like children. The group struggled to formulate a plan of attack to free themselves…then Mae promptly circumvented most of the planning stage by dislocating her own wrist and driving an SUV into the lab. Fitz uses a drone to activate the Hydra weapon, Ward and the rest of the agents held off the commandos, and Skye manages to find her place among the team, proving herself with a little raft-related ingenuity before all is said and done. The show ends with the team taking back the plane and eventually destroying the Hydra weapon by shooting it into the sun…literally. On a rocket. We are left with Coulson’s hand picked crew, now finally starting to gel, enjoying a hard earned victory while Skye receives a deliberately ominous message from the Crimson Tide, which she replies to in the affirmative.
Overall, I thought this episode was an incredible follow up to the pilot…and then at the end, Nick Fury appeared. I won’t lie, readers: I started jumping up and down in front of my television set, cheering gleefully.
However, I digress. The characters are fleshing out more, the story was great, and elements of Joss Whedon’s broader vision are already visible. His trademark of writing strong female characters is also evident across the board: Simmons is the more forthright of the lab techs, Skye is exceedingly resourceful, and Melinda Mae is…well, The Cavalry. Maybe the physics aren’t exactly real, but Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is exactly what you’d expect from a Marvel production: reality based, but not straight up reality. It’s believable, but pure action fun with a slim edge of cartoony outlandishness to remind you that this show is based on the writings of a comic book publisher.
I, for one, can’t wait for next week. What are your thoughts? Who stands out as your favorite character so far? Let me know in the comments, or hit me up on Twitter to tell me all about it.
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The Corsair’s Closet features Elizabeth Carlie as the Mad Woman With A Box and Kristine Cherry as the Time Siren. The pair co-host Krypton Radio’s wacky and high-energy Doctor Who-themed cosplay show in which they get their geek on by squeeing about Doctor Who, cosplay and pop culture fan creativity.
The Corsair’s Closet airs with a new episode each Wednesday at 4PM, and repeats Friday at 5PM.